In the Spotlight: Practice Managers LJ and Lee
Today we shine the spotlight on two of our amazing Practice Managers. Across Canada, practice teams have had their regular operations disrupted by the pandemic. As restrictions in certain areas begin to ease and our practices make plans to return to work, we wanted to share the stories of some of our own unsung heroes. We spoke with LJ Turnbull from Halifax and Lee Wrigley from Alberta to learn what drives their accomplishments and how they’re making it through these unprecedented times.
LJ Turnbull, Regional Manager, Halifax, N.S
LJ has the responsibilities of a Practice Manager times five. Now in her tenth year with a group of practices in Nova Scotia, she travels between five different practices in Halifax: Robie Street, Brooklyn, Parkland, Gladstone, and Spryfield. Working closely with each clinic’s Team Lead, she is responsible for operations and financial growth. The range of responsibilities keeps her busy and engaged in her role. “No day is ever the same,” explains LJ. “One day I’m looking at pay rates and contracts in one location and the next I’m helping another practice with equipment issues.” It’s this sort of variety, and the people she works with, that get her out of bed in the morning.
Despite the far-reaching impact and disruption of COVID-19, LJ has a remarkable ability to see that there are also positive things that have arisen from the pandemic. Her practices are temporarily closed, restricted to offering triage services over the phone. But LJ is enjoying the different perspective that comes with working remotely. “With every conversation, I’m getting closer to people, and even getting to see their families,” she says. “I’ve learned about talents that my team members have that I wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise – we have knitters, bakers, makers-of-bath-bombs – getting closer to my team is a very positive outcome of the situation we are all in.”
We talked about the patient experience and what that means to LJ. “Without patients, we wouldn’t have clinics,” she says. “Many patients experience anxiety when visiting the dentist. I’m committed to offering them a safe place to visit, and to help them feel at ease. When we really seek to understand the source of their worries, we can work with them to make them comfortable and ensure their experience is a positive one.”
Asked if she has advice for people getting their start in dentistry, LJ says “You’re getting into an amazing career, and you will be working with humans every single day. Compassion and collaboration are key. In a team, you will each have something different to offer, with different skill sets and capabilities. Helping each other and working effectively together is how everyone will be able to progress and grow in their roles.”
A final piece of advice from LJ: “Love your bed, and love what you do. Those two things make up most of the hours of your existence. Sleep well and enjoy work and the rest is gravy.”
Lee Wrigley, Office Manager, South 40 Dental, Grande Prairie, AB
Lee has been with South 40 Dental since the practice opened in August 2013. She described for us what’s kept her there for the last seven years. “I love the culture we created and continue to grow,” said Lee. “Our team and our patients feel like a big family, and we have so much respect within our clinic, and our community that most days don't really feel like work!”.
When asked about the impact of COVID-19 on herself, and on the practice, Lee admits it was a challenge at the beginning. “I felt a little helpless at first when we had to close down our regular practice and restrict our services to virtual care only. We are so used to taking great care of our patients, so we had to get creative with 'virtual' best practices for our new reality.”
Lee says that a great support system is key – both personally and professionally – to making it through these challenging times. “I have a fantastic network of friends and family, and I try to carve out a bit of time each day to recharge and refocus,” says Lee. “In terms of the practice as a whole, we’ve got such great support within dentalcorp. I feel we were better prepared for all the changes, policies and processes due to the hard work of all the 'behind the scenes' departments collaborating and providing our clinic with all the tools we needed.”
The practice has also been implementing strategies to keep up communications between practice team members. Lee says, “We've always had a great, open communication system within our clinic, and we kept that going with zoom meetings and chats to ensure our team has opportunities to ask questions and help us navigate the ever-changing pandemic processes. As a highly collaborative and close-knit team, we also just wanted to have regular communication with each other. We’ve really missed that face-to-face interaction.”
Lee describes what she feels is a great patient experience: “From the first greeting or call, they need to feel they are listened to, cared for, and guided each step of the way. From their comfort during treatment, to the education provided, and the opportunity to ask questions, and of course, the great clinical experience our team provides.” For Lee, it means meeting and exceeding patient expectations for their entire journey. She goes on to say, “A patient should leave feeling like they were the only patient we saw that day, and all their questions and concerns were addressed, and they've found a 'one stop shop' for all their dental care needs.”
Her advice to emerging dental professionals? “Find a team that makes work fun. Always learn. Listen to understand – our patients and peers have so much to teach us. Finally, make your workplace what you want it to be - create your culture and live it!”